Wood is enjoying a big comeback as a housebuilding material, and not just because of its authentic good looks. With great thermal and acoustic insulation properties, a high degree of fire resistance and outstanding structural qualities, what’s not to love about timber homes? In Switzerland, wood also plays a starring role in the latest trend in sustainable architecture: “ecobio” homes.
What’s an ecobio home?
These are eco-friendly bioclimatic buildings that use natural, locally sourced materials and are very energy-efficient, hence their growing popularity. They are a response to the need to care for the environment while building and renovating, at every stage of the building’s life cycle. This means using “living” and “clean” materials from nature, keeping processing and energy consumption to a minimum. Overcoming our reliance on fossil fuels is probably the biggest challenge facing housebuilders today. This is no less than a green revolution, and wood is right at the heart of it. Ecobio technology shows the way to a brighter future for real estate in Switzerland.
Wood, material of the future
A few years ago, wood was seen as an unreliable material and was shunned by housebuilders. Yet today it’s making a triumphant return. A number of famous buildings are of timber construction: the Palais de l’Equilibre in Neuchatel, the Refuge du Goûter on Mont-Blanc, the Vitam’ leisure centre in France and the Opéra des Nations in Geneva are just a few examples! We can thank Thomas Büchi for this. The founder of the construction company Charpente Concept was the first to successfully combine technology and tradition for a highly satisfactory outcome.
A “passive house” - what’s that?
These eco-friendly homes are also known as “passive houses” because they have no active heating system, reducing the amount of energy needed for heating, ventilation and lighting. It’s therefore important for them to face the right direction. This ensures maximum brightness and harnesses the power of the sun using solar panels, a smart, green way to heat the home.
Ways of keeping a passive house warm include using high-quality windows, a very high standard of insulation (another reason why wood is such a good material), and a controlled mechanical ventilation system combined with a heat exchanger. The latter can produce three times more heat than a regular heat pump.
A green home doesn’t have to cost the Earth
Nowadays it’s possible to build new homes - and renovate older properties - at an affordable price, following an energetically self-sufficient process. Swiss ecobio homes are designed to blend in seamlessly with the surrounding landscape, so care is always taken when choosing a plot. Individual happiness is always a priority, becomes comfort and respect for nature should always go hand in hand.
Eco-friendly, zero-emission houses built from local timber are surely the homes of the future, and well worth a look for any house-hunter wanting to stay ahead of the curve.